Family Mediation: Reaching an Agreement Without Going to Court


Family mediation helps you settle the issues that arise following a break-up without going to court.

Mediation is always optional. Either spouse can refuse to go to mediation or can stop at any time.

Important! This article deals only with the mediation process when the mediator is certified.

You can find a mediator by using the government’s online search engine. You can also contact your local courthouse or the Association de médiation familiale du Québec (association of family mediators in Quebec)

Mediation for couples without dependent children – from February 18, 2021 to June 30, 2022.

A pilot project by the Quebec government offers 3 hours of free mediation with an accredited mediator to couple without dependent children. This program is open to couples who are married or in a civil union. It can help them decide how to divide family and matrimonial property. This program is also available to common-law couples who had signed a contract or who have property that must be divided.

Information Session on Parenting and Mediation

Even though mediation is optional, in most cases, former spouses must attend an information session on parenting and mediation. When a couple has children, they must usually attend the information session before asking a court to settle their conflict. There are two exceptions:

  • the couple has already attended an information session
  • there is family violence

At the end of the information session, each person who attended is given a document called an “attestation” that confirms they attended.

To learn more, read our article Information Session on Parenting and Mediation.

The Mediator

The mediator guides the mediation process. She helps the former spouses reach a fair agreement on their differences.

The mediator must make sure both spouses have had a chance to explain what they need and want. She also helps them take their children’s needs into account.

If mediation does not result in an agreement, anything said or written during mediation is confidential and cannot be repeated, even in court.

The mediator does not act as a judge or as a lawyer. She cannot make decisions for the former spouses, represent one of them, or give legal advice. She can only give general information.

The mediator can end the mediation at any time if she thinks it is not going well.

There are no lawyers present during mediation. But the former spouses can consult a lawyer or a notary before, during or after the mediation process to get legal advice.

The Mediation Process

There are usually three stages in mediation which can take place over a number of sessions:

1. Evaluating the Situation

The mediator evaluates the situation of the couple and their children and determines the topics to be discussed. The mediator asks the spouses to sign a contract that sets out the rules for the mediation.

2. Negotiation

During the mediation sessions, the mediator tries to help the former couple agree on the points raised.

3. Preparing a Written Agreement

After all the sessions are over, the mediator prepares a report on points of agreement. This is a report on all the points the couple agrees on.

At this stage, the mediator usually recommends that the spouses consult a lawyer or a notary to convert the report into an agreement, which will later be filed in court to become a decision of the court.

To learn more, read our article The Mediation Process.

The Cost of Family Mediation

The former couple must pay the mediator’s fees. But there is a government program that gives some couples a fixed number of hours of free mediation if the couple has children in their care.

To learn more, read our article When Mediation is Free for Couples.